Yes, it’s time once again for the event that I write and nobody reads but at least it quiets the screaming in my brain and pushes us ever closer to the end of this, the worst time of the year. As always, it has nothing to do with when the product came out, just what I did this year. So here we go:
Best RPG: Nothing really grabbed me this year – I respected a lot but nothing made me want to play it. I liked the simplicity of FU, I liked the marketing genius of Fiasco, I was blown away with the angle on Happy Birthday Robot, rewriting rpgs as narration games for kids, it should have won the Diana Jones, not Fiasco – but none of them made me want to play. I think Ashen Stars contains – as always, from Laws, – some of the greatest setting design stuff and genre savvy ever, but I still hate Gumshoe and everything it stands for. I’d like to give this to James Wallis’ bad-tv-show game Cop Show but it’s not out yet, so this goes to James Wallis’ Here On Business, an RPG that doesn’t bore you shitless because it’s written on a business card.
Best Board Game: This goes to Telestrations, a lovely party parlour game that does exactly what it should: produce hilarity and get out of the way. Lovely pieces, lovely fun.
Best Computer Game: This ALMOST goes to Portal 2, but Limbo was simpler, neater, prettier, more different and more stylish. It has a perfect simplicity that is missing from so many games. I’m sure Skyrim is great and all, but complexity just exhausts me, and explanations bore me. Why are we in Limbo? Who cares. It sucks, we want to leave. The rest is boring. And yet, despite the one line intro, it is incredibly evocative, and the setting has visual and narrative depth rivaling the mountains of Skyrim.
Best Movie: I barely saw anything this year, mostly because there was nothing I wanted to see. Muppets isn’t out yet, Tintin only just opened and I missed The King’s Speech and Thor. Probably the best thing I saw this year was rewatching The Neverending Story on You Tube, a vastly underrated movie with an actual, resonating message and very well crafted by Wolfgang “Das Boot” Petersen. I was also blown away by Iron Man 2, a film which did the opposite of most sequels: it kept all the good stuff and cut out all the guff from the first one. The more I see if Favreau the more I’m impressed with him: he REALLY knows what he’s doing, and he is getting to do it.
Best TV Show: Again, a lot of almosts in this category. Community is knowing and wise, but it’s just too damn dark and hostile. I finally got into Chuck and it’s lovely but it quickly drowns in its own soap opera. I have yet to torrent Parks and Recreation. This one I’m giving to Modern Family. After a rocky start this show built up some strong characters that managed to ride the line between amusingly flawed and inspiringly capable, presenting families that were distorted and even deformed, but functional and strong despite it all. Somehow, it managed to hit home without being too schmaltzy – by being a little bit honest in a cynical world. Nice.
Honorable mention to the Octonauts, the best new kids show of the year, up against some incredibly strong competition. Gaspar and Lisa was also excellent, but the Octonauts managed to be cute yet awesome and live under the sea, which puts them one point ahead of those interminably popular ponies.
Best Comic: Seanbaby’s Man Comics and their affiliates. NONE OF YOU ARE SAFE.
Best Anything: This image. It’s hard to even put into words the way this image makes me feel. Sometimes you get to feel history as it happens, and know it is history. Not since I watched the towers fall have I seen it so strongly. It is a new world now, and it starts with that photo.